Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy birthday, Morgan!

My boy is ten years old today.

Here he is celebrating his birthday this afternoon ...



Chicken with 30 to 40 Cloves of Garlic

Today I made Chicken with 30 to 40 Cloves of Garlic for supper in our crockpot (aka slow cooker).

I found the recipe in the Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Ingredients:
  • 8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs (I used drumsticks instead)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tsp (7ml) olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp (7ml) butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 30 to 40 peeled chopped cloves garlic (I used bottled minced garlic ... 1 clove = 1/2 tsp ... so I used 20 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (all I had to use was sauvignon blanc or bubbly so I went with the sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken broth
  • 2 T (30ml) flour
  • 3 T (45ml) cold water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I had none so did without)

New TV station volume rules begin

Do you ever notice when you are watching TV and a commercial comes on, it's so much LOUDER?

How annoying is that?!

Here's some good news!

OTTAWA - The days of blaring television commercials are over.

Starting Saturday, all broadcasters will have to ensure the volume of commercials isn't higher than that of regular programs, following new rules brought in by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications.

"Canadians will be able to enjoy their favourite television programs without having to adjust the volume during commercial breaks," CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a press release.


Happy tenth anniversary, Sister Sarah and Joey

Sister Sarah and Joey got married ten years ago today ... in a lovely park in Halifax, NS!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

St.F.X. Toronto Alumni Chapter - Blue Jays game

I went to St. Francis Xavier University (St. F.X.) in Antigonish, NS, and graduated in 1983.

This evening the Toronto Alumni Chapter held an event for alumni, friends and family (Gord came as my guest).

It started with drinks and appetizers at the Loose Moose .   There were pitchers of Keiths draft and platters of pulled pork sliders, quesadillas, spring rolls, etc.  Yum!  It was a good chance to mingle and meet other alumni ... graduating years represented were from 1962 right up to 2012.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, Toronto ON (Front Street)

I had supper tonight with my pal, Deb, and her friend, Christine, at Jack Astor's on Front Street.



Lunch with Colin Mochrie ... sort of!

Steve, Dorothy (she is in town from Vancouver) and I had lunch today at Capocaccia Cafe.

Steve noticed that Colin Mochrie and his wife, Debra McGrath, were having lunch at the bar behind us.

He tried to be cool and take a picture of them with his iphone without being too obvious ... so that's why Dorothy and I are in the picture.  Colin and Debra are on the other side of the bar (Colin is in the black ball hat).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Alison's Dad's Chicken Bacon Special

Today I made Alison's Dad's Chicken Bacon Special for supper in our crockpot (aka slow cooker).

I found the recipe in the Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Ingredients:
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1.5 cups (375ml) BBQ sauce
  • 0.5 cup (125ml) chicken broth or water
  • chopped green onion and tomato
Use a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker.  Wrap one slice of bacon around each chicken thigh.  Place in slow cooker.  Sprinkle onion and apple over top.  Pour in BBQ sauce and broth, turning chicken to coat.



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Heritage Toronto Walk - The Royal Alexandra Theatre and its Neighbourhood

Gord and I did The Royal Alexandra Theatre and its Neighbourhood walk through Heritage Toronto this morning.

The Royal Alexandra Theatre, anchor of the Theatre District, celebrates its 105th birthday today. Hear the story of the theatre and explore the multi-layered history of the surrounding neighbourhood.

The walk was two hours and started at Simcoe Park on Front St W.  Our leader was Janet Langdon.


Here is the "Campsite Founding" sculpture which commemorates our first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe, and his wife, Elizabeth, who lived in a canvas tent during their stay in Toronto.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book ~ "Walking on Broken Glass" (2010) Christa Allan

From Goodreads ~ Leah Thornton's life, like her "Southern Living" home, has great curb appeal. But a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice in the supermarket shatters the facade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears. When her best friend gets in Leah 's face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make an agonizing decision. 

Can she sacrifice what she wants to get what she needs? Joy, sadness, and pain converge, testing Leah's commitment to her marriage, her motherhood, and her faith.

Leah is married to Carl, who comes from a rich snobby family.  She self-medicates with alcohol to numb the pain of the death of her six week old daughter, Alyssa, and to allow her to tune out through the nightly sexual advances of Carl.  When her friend, Molly, confronts her about her problem, Leah immediately checks into a 30 day rehab facility.  It was interesting to read Leah's journey through rehab and how she reacts afterwards back home (though it seemed pretty easy considering everything she had going on).

I enjoyed the writing style.  Despite the serious nature of the story (alcoholism and sexual abuse), it was at times funny and sarcastic.  It could have been a lot more depressing that it was.


Book ~ "(You) Set Me on Fire" (2012) Mariko Tamaki

From Penguin.ca ~ This is a story about college, about fire and also about love.

Allison Lee is seventeen and off to college in the fall. So far, she's been in love once (total catastrophe) and on fire twice (also pretty bad). Both love and fire have left their scars.

Looking a little more burnt chicken and a little less radiant phoenix, Allison takes up residence in Dylan Hall at St. Joseph's College, where she discovers the true gift of freshman year: the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Miles away from the high school she's happy to leave behind, her all-female dorm is a strange new world, home to new social circles and challenges. Allison still feels like the odd girl out ... until Shar appears. Beautiful and blinding, Shar quickly becomes the sun at the centre of Allison's universe, drawing her in with dangerous allure.

Will Allison get burned again? And, if she does ... what kind of scars will she earn this time?

Allison is leaving home for the first time to go to university.  She hasn't had a happy time at school so far so she sees it as a chance to start over and make friends ... which she does until she meets Shar.  Shar is mean and rude to everyone (she's a bitch!) and Allison is drawn to her.  They hang out, skip school, and become friends.

This book was written in the first person in Allison's voice.  The style of the writing at times is like she is talking to you.  Depending on what's going on, the sentences tend to run on or they are short and choppy.  Sometimes words are capitalized for emphasis.  It was written in an abrupt and honest style and the language and content is mature at times.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Do you give your seat up on transit?

BlogTO posted Why don't TTC riders give pregnant women their seats? today.

It has resulted in a heated and lively discussion in the comments.

Some say they do automatically offer their seat to pregnant women.  Some say they have offered their seat but have gotten rebuffed so don't anymore.

Others say they paid for their seat so why should they give it up to anyone for any reason?

And others say, though they don't look like they need the seat might because they just worked a 12 hour shift or have something wrong that isn't obvious so why should they give up their seat just because a woman is pregnant?

The pregnancy part is irrelevant to me.  If someone, whether they are pregnant, elderly or disabled, looks like they need a seat, I don't hesitate to offer it.  But if they don't look like they need one, I don't.

What about you?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hillebrand Wine Club - August

Gord and I have been members of the Hillebrand Wine Club for about ten years.

If experiencing a new wine inspires and arouses your curiosity, then join us for an ongoing journey. The Hillebrand Wine Club is an opportunity for you to explore and enjoy wines that intrigue you, and share them as their complex secrets unfold.

Every month our winemaker carefully selects two bottles of Hillebrand VQA wine. Two wines you may not have selected on your own. Consider this your opportunity to discover new tastes and expand your palate with new flavours and sensations.

Included in your package will be detailed tasting notes by our Winemaker Craig McDonald, and inspiring recipe cards created by Chef Frank Dodd of Hillebrand Winery Restaurant that give you food experiences to complement your wine.

Wine Club makes a great gift to a special friend or to yourself, and it’s a convenient way to fill any wine cellar with some of the best wines produced in Canada.

* Available to Ontario residents only

For about $40 a month, we receive two bottles of wine in the mail every month ... so much more fun to receive wine in the mail than a bill!  Plus anytime we go to Niagara-on-the-Lake, we pop into the Hillebrand store and get free samples (otherwise we'd have to pay for them). 

They tried to deliver this August's wine to us yesterday but we were at work so I picked them up at the post office today.


Here's what we got this month ... Trius Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($14.75) and Artist Series 'Limited Edition' Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($17.75).


Also included was a recipe for Salted Butter Fudge to match with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Leek, Bacon and Pea Risotto to match with the Sauvignon Blanc.

Book ~ "An Echo Through the Snow" (2012) Andrea Thalasnios

From AndreaThalasinos.com ~ In today's climate of hopelessness and despair, An Echo Through the Snow is a story of relationships between unlikely people that compel them to persevere with the belief that a better world is possible. Set in far eastern Siberia as well as the Red Cliff Indian Reservation on Lake Superior in Wisconsin, both places are center stage where the forces of personal and cultural destruction try to entice the characters into surrender and desperation. It's only through conviction of the heart that Rosalie McKenzie, Jeaantaa, and Tariem endeavor to bring that better world closer to realization.

In 1919, when young Jeaantaa's betrothed dies in a hunt on the Bering Sea, she is pressured into an unwanted marriage to Tariem, his older brother. Ten years later as Stalin's Red Army advances to their village on the Bering seacoast, Jeaantaa is forced to make a decision about their dogs, called guardians. Her actions put her at odds with both her husband and the ancient ways of the Chukchi. Thwarting their family's plan to escape into reindeer country, she vanishes after a meeting with Robert Ramsay, a young man from Nome, Alaska. Her disappearance leaves Tariem haunted for a lifetime as to her fate and the whereabouts of dozens of their young dogs. Later in 1994 after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Tariem returns with other villagers to reclaim their ancestral lands and culture after the decades long ravages of Soviet domination.

In 1992, eighteen year old Rosalie McKenzie is her own worst enemy as she's at odds with the world. Stuck in a destructive marriage along with a string of dead-end jobs, she breaks ranks to save Smokey, an abused husky at great consequence to her own well-being. As Rosalie gains a passion for this elegant animal, she unwittingly ventures along a path of self discovery. Hired as a dog handler by Jan and Dave, who own a local sled dog racing kennel, she finds herself center stage in the world of competitive dog sledding. It's there she meets Charlie Gokee, a veterinarian and retired Alaskan dog musher who sees in Rosalie all the spirit, strength and potential she fails to recognize in herself. Rosalie shines as she comes into her own. And it's through a series of mysterious events or remembrances that Rosalie embodies the spirit of Jeaantaa as a contemporary Keeper of the Guardians. Through Charlie, she meets legendary musher Robert Ramsay who opens doors to the many puzzling dreams and intuitions that served as the initial impetus for saving Smokey.

Readers of Echo are treated to vivid locations and highly charged emotional themes that reveal little known historical and political events spanning sixty years. As the narratives weave together they meet towards the end in a dramatic present time conclusion where an ancient breed of canines, huskies that have thrived in the homes and hearts of northern peoples, help to guide the way home. 

When I started reading this book, I wasn't sure if I would keep with it, to be honest.  If a book doesn't grab me right away, I don't stay with it.

But I'm glad I did with this one because I ended up enjoying it.

I wasn't crazy about the writing style in the first couple of chapters. This is the author's debut novel and it was like she was trying too hard.  There seemed to be a lot of comparisons which I found a bit annoying.  Here are some examples:
  • Her bangs quivering like butterflies
  • The dream chased her like a ratty little dog
  • He vanished like mist on Superior after the sun burns through
I don't mind one occasionally but it seemed like it was overkill at first.  But I noticed this tendency disappeared after a while and I found I enjoy the writing style and got caught up in the story.

Plus I found Rosalie annoying in the beginning.  She was young, married to an abuser, not able to focus and drifting from job to job (though she did have a knack for beading).  Even when she was offered a job working as a handler of sled dogs, she waffled about it.  Once she accepted the job and started to find herself, I found her likeable.

The chapters alternate from different time periods in Siberia and Wisconsin (they are clearly indicated at the beginning).  The Siberians are a very spiritual people.  Conflicting with their way of life is the emergence of Stalin's Red Army.  Jeaantaa chooses to not go along with it and takes off in order to save her beloved dogs.  Her husband, Tariem, is haunted for the next sixty years, thinking she ran off with Robert Ramsey.

After Rosalie saves Smokey, an abused husky guard dog of a junkyard, and moves back in with her dad, her life settles down and discovers her calling.  Working for Jan and Dave, she gets involved with sled dogs and eventually builds her own team.

Gord and I have gone dogsledding so I was able to relate to what was going on.  It's exhilarating!  Here we are:


So though it took me a couple chapters to get into this book, I'm glad I kept with it and I'd recommend it, especially if you are into dogs. There is some mature language.

I participated in a blog book tour and received a copy of this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.  Here are the tour host participants:
Congrats to Maureen for winning the new copy of this book I was giving away!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS

In September 2009, I bought a Canon PowerShot SX120 IS.

I loved it and used it a lot (it was small and always in my bag).  I had a couple issues with the flash (it would stop working) but because I had bought an extended warranty, I would get it repaired for free.

The flash stopped working and I brought it in to be repaired in February 2012.  I was told that it was too old and not worth fixing so I could get a replacement instead, which was the updated PowerShot.  Sweet! 

Or I could take the value and get a different camera (and pay any difference). The sales guy recommended that I get the Nikon Coolpix S8200 instead so that's what I did.  I like it okay but once I started using it, I soon realized I missed my Canon.  Plus Gord has one so when I used his, I'd wish I'd listened to my heart and gotten the Canon.

It wasn't until Gord and I took the camera course in the spring and I learned about aperture and shutter priority that I realized the Nikon doesn't have them.  Up until that point, I didn't know what they were so never missed them.  I've since become a big fan of shooting in aperture priority and that's all I do with my Nikon D5100.

When I got home today, there was a box on my laptop.  Gord had gotten me a Canon PowerShot SX150 IS.  What a nice surprise!  Though I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, I asked him to take it back.  I gave him lots of reasons.  My Nikon Coolpix works fine so it doesn't make sense to have a new camera.  I said I'd taken a raincheck ... when the Nikon dies, he can then buy me a new one.  We just got back from vacation and are still paying the bills on it.  I said he could give me the $$ and I'll put it towards a lense for my Nikon D5100.

In the end, he wouldn't hear of it.

So I spent about an hour this evening pouring over the manual to learn more about the cool updated features.

Thanks, Gord!

Update:  Though this camera is the updated version, there is one thing about it that really bugs me.  When I need to use the flash, it sometimes takes a while for it to "charge".  There is a message on the screen that actually says that it's charging.  So I have to wait ... and miss the shot.  I have high quality rechargeable batteries in it so it's definitely the camera.  If you take a lot of pictures where you don't use the flash, it's a good camera.  But if you need the flash, it's sucks :(

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book ~ "Fifty Shades of Grey" (2011) E.L. James

From Goodreads ~ When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

I read this book because I wanted to see what the big deal is.  I know people who have read the three books in the series two and three times, back-to-back-to-back.

The story is quite graphic in its descriptions of BDSM activity.  I quickly became immune to it.  Sometimes there was too much information, though (like with the tampon).  The language and activity is extremely mature.

When we first meet Ana, she is a very young and inexperienced 21-year-old, forever blushing.  By the end of this book, she has matured a bit.  I never did like her, though.   She whispered quite often when having a conversation.  Why??!!  I just read a review that she actually whispers about 200 times!  She's forever biting her lip ... about 35 times I discovered (it seemed like more!).  And she says "jeez" about 81 times!!  I wasn't expecting much from the writing style but I found it very immature, especially considering the content of the book.

Christian is a 26-year-old gazillionaire, handsome, has a pilot's license (along with his own plane, of course), plays classical piano and, besides having the need to be a Dom, has a weird fetish about being touched (he doesn't like it).  Oh, and he has a weird obsession with not wasting food.  This rich powerful guy often says, "Laters, baby" to Ana ... really?!  He was introduced to the world of BDSM when he was 15 by a friend of his mom's ... ewwwww!  In the beginning, I didn't like him because he came across as arrogant and controlling.  By the end, I didn't mind him, though ... he's honest, caring and trying to give Ana what she wants (which is love).

Everything in this book happens over a four week period.

Though I didn't enjoy this book, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be (I give it 1/5).  I must say that I was happy when I was finally finished it.  I won't be rushing to read the next two in the series.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

**********

Here is a funny clean spoof of this book with Selena Gomez ...



This one is funny too but Gilbert is reading directly from the book so the language is mature.



And finally, here is a funny spoof with a Canadian twist, Fifty Shades of Eh.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cotton dishcloth

I finished a dishcloth tonight.


It's an easy pattern but it took longer than usual because it's large.

Size: Approximately 9" x 9"
Materials: Cotton yarn
Needle: Size US 7 or size needed to obtain gauge.
Gauge: 5 stitches = 1"

Cast on 46 stitches.

Rows 1 and 2: Knit across all stitches.

Rows 3 and 4: K 2, *K 1, P 1, repeat from * across to last 2 stitches, K 2.

Repeat Rows 1 - 4 for pattern until piece measures approximately 9" ending with pattern Row 2. Bind off all stitches in Knit. Weave in loose ends.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) 2012

Because BMO Field is on the Ex grounds, Gord and I got free admittance to the CNE because we went to the Toronto FC game.

We wandered around for a couple hours after the game.


The first thing we did was check out the new Sky Ride.

Extending 40 feet above ground at its highest point, the Sky Ride will enthrall CNE visitors as they are elevated into the air and transported across the grounds towards the historic Princes’ Gates, or alternatively west towards BMO Field.

It's $5 one way and we waited in a line-up for about 15 minutes for our turn.


Almost our turn to get on ...


Up up up we go ...


I'm funny with heights.  I can lean over cliffs and ledges (like on Signal Hill) and even stand on a glass floor waaaaaaaaay up (like in the CN Tower) ... but rides scare me.  Ironically Gord's the opposite (he swears at me when he thinks I get too close to an edge).  Once we got going on the Sky Ride and Gord stopped shifting around (!!), it wasn't too bad.

We headed to the Direct Energy Building after that to the craft beer garden.  Along the way, we checked out award winning plants.


There are beer gardens outside but they sell big brand beer.  Gord loves craft beers so that's why we went to this one instead.


Here's Gord having a Lake of Bays 10 Point IPA.


I had this cranberry blueberry wine from Muskoka Lakes Winery first ... it was really reallly sweet.


I liked Hinterbrook's Rosé better.


This trio was playing jazz.


Back outside and walking around ... there was lots of people out and about on the rides and playing the games of chance.


We were hungry so had some wings and fries from the St. Louis food truck.


They were good but just warm, not hot, which was surprising considering we had to wait for them.


The CNE is huge and we were only able to check out a few things before we walked home.